10 Questions with ... J.J. Hemingway
March 6, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started off at an AM daytimer in my hometown of Seattle: KQIN-A/800 (now KGNW-A 820), which was an Oldies station, and during high school I just kept hanging out around the station and probably driving the people there crazy. They put me on the weekend schedule and presto! I got my first on-air gig. Then I moved to KEZX/Seattle doing Beautiful Music. After Seattle and high school, I went cross-country and did some work down South in Augusta, Savannah, Winston-Salem-Greensboro, Greenville-Spartanburg, Seattle (again), then Dallas, Colorado Springs, Spokane (first time), Great Falls, Columbus and since 1998, back here in Spokane. I have done morning shows, and PM drive, programmed, done music, production and even put a couple of new stations on the air. Radio is what I do ... it IS me. I love AC, Hot AC and Classic Hits. It's the music that I know and love the most. I believe in serving up the music and making it special -- a little tidbit about the artist, the song and make the music bigger than it is!
1) What do you do to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay motivated?
I know that one of my "spiritual" gifts is the gift of encouragement to others, and it's the same for me. I have been many people's biggest cheerleader to encourage them to bigger and better things, and I'm that same way with myself. I do have my Christian faith, and God has always provided for me and I know He has a great plan and place for me all picked out. I'm NOT a religious nut; I just have my Christian faith and that has been a big help along with encouraging friends!!
2) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
I was smart enough to launch "CBS-Spokane" back in 1998. It provides production services for radio stations all over the U.S. I have a good client base and I coordinate what we do, and between me and the 12 folks who voice stuff besides me, I do stay busy -- but NOT busy enough ... BUT I miss being "on the air!" With the technology available today, I am able to take my business anywhere.
3) Do you plan on sticking with radio?
Radio is all I have ever done. My dad, Jack Hemingway, was an on-air personality in Seattle and by the time I was three -- when I was given a record player for Christmas -- radio became my career choice. I started when I was 16 in high school, and 36 years later it's what I do. Other than my production company, IF I had to get a "real job," I'm not sure what I would do.
4) What's the longest stretch you've had on the beach?
In 1990, after I was let go from KLTY in Dallas, I was beaching it for just a couple of months. During that time I did some work at a record/CD store in Dallas, and that was fun. But, it wasn't radio.
5) What has been your best resource for finding out about job openings?
In the old days it was always Radio & Records and their opportunity section. We would all look at that after scanning the "back pag,." and with their sad demise, All Access seems to be the best way to go. I have submitted my stuff, have got some nice responses -- primarily the ones who tell you, "We have received your stuff and if we need more information we will be in touch." But, so far, I haven't received that firm offer that I am anticipating.
6) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
I know good radio and I specialize in AC, Hot AC, Classic Hits and Oldies. I would like to be an Ops Manager, Program Director and of course do the music -- it's what I have a passion for. You just can't let Selector or Power Gold do it by itself. Logs need to be groomed. So many people get lazy nowadays, but I love grooming music logs, working with on-air talent and making the station the best it can be. Even voicetracking is an art-form IF done right... and I can help people accomplish that. I'd love Seattle, my hometown, or to remain in Spokane -- I own a house and have roots here -- but I can do what I do most anywhere! I'm definitely ready for my next challenge!
7) What has been your biggest career accomplishment?
Working in Dallas-Ft. Worth for three years. It's a great market. I had good numbers doing a Contemporary Christian format. And the almost six years that I did shows both live and tracked for KJR-FM in Seattle, my hometown, from 2001-2007. I've done some TV -- hosted a comedy TV show -- introducing the comedians and doing some wacky stuff myself, and hosting a hockey TV show with the local team. Other than that, it had to be the almost 14 years I was at KISC/Spokane. That is my longest tenure with one station. I had good numbers in virtually every rating book that came out. I was downsized and replaced with "Premium Choice." To me so far -- NOT impressive at all.
8) What do you miss most about music/radio? The least?
I simply miss communicating with my "listening family" on a daily basis. I'm pretty much the same on the air as I am off the air -- up, fun and entertaining. What I miss least is something I've experienced only a very few times; that is being "micro-managed" by someone who many times doesn't have a clue how to deal with people and how to bring out the best in them, sending constant e-mails or hot-lining them when you're on the air ... HATE THAT. And somehow this person got the job that I should have had the opportunity to have been given.
9) If you were offered a similar position to what you were doing for considerably less money, would you seriously consider taking the job just to stay in the biz?
That would depend on the market -- and IF benefits were included. I would consider taking a job if the time constraints weren't too demanding. Let's say if I was just voicetracking shows vs. live and local radio, then I would consider doing it!
10) Having been through all you have dealt with in this biz, what advice would you give people trying to break in?
This day in time -- with consolidation and no more overnight shows to hone your skills, make your mistakes and improve -- it's a very tough business, and unless you're right out of high school and prepared to work in promotions or do some intern work, I almost discourage people from getting into the business. Fifteen years ago it was so much different, as voicetracking hadn't really taken off. People could get their first jobs doing weekends and some overnight shows.
Now, it's all tracked or unattended (just music and liners and sweepers). I occasionally have people in their late 20s/early 30s wanting to get into radio and I simply tell them, "No ... you don't." Not unless you want to work for free, and maybe with some luck something opens up for you. I hope that changes, but I don't see that happening anytime soon, or on the horizon.
Uh oh ... now you're on your own for getting new music. If applicable, name your three most recent purchases since leaving the biz.
I have pretty eclectic taste in music and I have around 9,000 CDs. I much prefer buying the CD vs. downloading. I like to read the liner notes, see the pics, etc., and touch what I am playing. Since I have a sound system, and play music for weddings and parties, I bought the recent releases of "Now That's What I Call Music." They make doing the gigs fun and easy. They feature around 20 of the hottest Top 40-Hot AC tunes.